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Herself an AuthorGender, Agency, and Writing in Late Imperial China$
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Grace S. Fong

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831868

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831868.001.0001

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From the Margin to the Center

From the Margin to the Center

The Literary Vocation of Concubines

(p.54) Chapter 2 From the Margin to the Center
Herself an Author

Grace S. Fong

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter focuses on the poetry produced by concubines, a category of women who occupied socially and ritually inferior positions in the female hierarchy within the polygamous household. It shows how women with a lower social status could, through writing poetry, articulate some forms of subjecthood. Given the social marginality of concubines, their writings provide provocative glimpses into the possibilities for transforming oneself and overcoming subalternity by constituting oneself as a writing subject, by becoming “herself an author.” As an exemplary case study, this chapter analyzes the stylistic appropriations and subject constructions in the Chunyulou ji (Collection of Spring Rain Pavilion), a collection of poetry and essays printed in her own calligraphy by Shen Cai.

Keywords:   concubines, polygamous households, subjecthood, writing subject, Chunyulou ji, Shen Cai, poetry, essays

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